The back of this massive 40 film, 24 DVD collection describes it as the “Definitive Set.” Someone needs to talk to Warner Brothers about the word “definitive.” I understand that Warner is highlighting their long standing relationship with Clint Eastwood. It’s an incredible feat for an artist to work for the same studio for over 40 years. However, to make this collection truly definitive the higher ups should have found a way to license one or two more films.
At first glance, the Clint Eastwood 40-Film Collection gives you a nice overview of this historic figure in motion pictures. You get some of his biggest box office hits, such as the Dirty Harry films, which include the 1971 original (directed by Eastwood’s mentor, Don Siegel), and the four sequels, Magnum Force ( ’73), The Enforcer (’76), Sudden Impact (’83) and The Dead Pool (’88). In addition to those successes, there are Every Which Way but Loose (’78), Firefox (’82), Absolute Power (’97) and Space Cowboys (2000).
There are also some real duds in this collection, like City Heat, his 1984 collaboration with Burt Reynolds, Pink Cadillac (’89), and the dreadful buddy movie he made with Charlie Sheen, The Rookie (’90). However, these clunkers are offset with the brilliant movies he’s made since 1988, the year Eastwood directed Forest Whitaker in Bird. Among the superb film he’s directed in the past twenty years include the under appreciated, White Hunter, Black Heart (’90), The Bridges of Madison County (’95), Mystic River (’30), Million Dollar Baby (’04) and Invictus (’09). This collection also contains last year’s Clint/Amy Adams father/daughter baseball drama, Trouble with the Curve.
Finally, three of Eastwood’s most revered westerns are in included: The Outlaw Josey Wales (’76), Pale Rider (’85) and his Academy Award masterpiece, Unforgiven (’92).
The Clint Eastwood 40-Film Collection would seem to have just about anything a fan of Clint would need. There are even two excellent documentaries about the American icon, including The Eastwood Factor, directed by noted film historian/ critic, Richard Schickel. What on earth could I possibly bitch about?
Call me a purist, or a completest, or just a film lover that believes that if you’re going to compile an overview of a man’s career, you have to include the first film he ever directed. In 1971, Clint directed Play Misty for Me, a thriller that he also starred in. Warner Brother didn’t release Play Misty for Me; Universal did. But here’s the thing: Don’t you think the two studios could have worked out a deal just this once, just for Clint? I mean, Morgan Freeman mentions the movie several times in the preface he wrote in the booklet included in the package. It sure would have been nice to take a look at the film that caused Freeman (and so many others) “to examine Eastwood in a new way.”
Fine, maybe I’m wearing rose colored glasses to think that these mega corporations could find a way to honor one of the greatest living directors. However, I’m at a loss to understand why Flags of Our Fathers (’06), a film that was distributed internationally by Warner Brothers, is not a part of this collection. Flags is the companion the companion film to Letters from Iwo Jima, is. The two films were meant to be seen together, to give audiences the perspective of war from both sides. Not including Flags of Our Fathers makes this box set a nice collection, but hardly definitive.
Nevertheless, you’d be hard pressed to find a better sampling of one man’s work than what you have here. All of the movies are drawn from previously released DVD versions. Some of the films are back-to-back on a single disc, which is convenient. Perhaps someday all of the film companies, including United, which released the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, will put aside their differences for the better of the film world and give us the true definitive Eastwood collection. Alas, I worry that day won’t come until Eastwood rides off into the sunset.
In other words… not for another 20 years (because you know he’s going to live to be 100). In the meantime, this collection will make your day.
Yes, I just said that.
The Clint Eastwood 40-Film Collection is available through Amazon.